:: San Pedro & scams ::

La Paz. Pretty much anything goes here. Coca leaves – the key ingredient used to make cocaine – are available on any street corner. Shoe shiners wearing balaclavas, thus resembling terrorists armed with shoe polish, crowd the pavements. Dried llama foetuses adorn every doorframe along the Witches´ Market.

And then there´s the San Pedro prison in the city centre, run by the inmates, and intermittently open to tourists. Welcome to La Paz.

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:: Ethical Tourism? ::

The idea of going down a Bolivian mine, unchanged since the 16th century, must seem strange and pretty reckless. Both of which it is. But this was exactly how I and three travelling friends chose to spend our one day in Potosi, a mining city south-east of La Paz, in the Southern Altiplano of Bolivia.

Artwork from a café in Potosi

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Body art in BA

:: Need a tattoo? Diego´s your man ::

I decided on my second day in Buenos Aires that I was going to get my first tattoo. My Austrian travelling companion, Markus, and I stumbled upon a tattoo parlour in San Telmo, just next to Calle Defensa on the corner of Independencia. The owner Diego, a slim chap sporting a goatie and covered in tattoos and piercings, was charming and kind, so despite the language barrier, on a whim, Markus and I both got new piercings. What would one do without Google translate?

I played it safe, getting two in my ears; Markus got his neck pierced and insisted I film the whole thing. The experience was definitely worse for me than for him. My mother was sure I would die of blood poisoning from my new piercings, but, one week later and still very much alive, I decided that I could chance it getting a tattoo as well.

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:: The taxi driver incident ::

The two worst things you can do when taking a taxi in a foreign country: not knowing the address of your hostel, and not speaking the language. The other night I managed to add a third to this list; invoking the wrath of your taxi driver.

I´d been at a house party in Buenos Aires with my friends Dan & Mahla and, around 6am, I decided I needed to call it a night. Leaving the others to party the morning away, the hostess hailed a cab for me, advised the driver where to go, and reassured me the journey would only cost $35 pesos. Just as well seeing as at this point in the night I didn´t really have the energy to sort this all out myself…and $35 was all the cash I had on me. Continue Reading »

:: A long overdue departure from Buenos Aires ::

Leaving BA was never going to be straightforward. Having found a home in the city for two months, setting forth on the road again for more travels appeared a strange but exciting prospect. Salta, northwest Argentina, beckoned.

However, I had not anticipated leaving twiceContinue Reading »

:: The hot sauce we badly needed in Brazil ::

Ya ya bean sauce, AKA La Boca Roja

If, like me, you love your food spicy with dashings of chilli sauce on pizza or empanadas, South America isn’t great. So far, it seems the whole continent seriously lacks a good hot sauce to buy in supermarkets. In fact, it lacks good hot sauces in general.

Until now. THANK HEAVEN for these guys, the Ya Ya Bean guys.

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Café culture

:: Why a latte to go is not acceptable round here ::

Buenos Aires’ residents, or Portenos as they are known, are huge coffee drinkers. In this respect, along with the Parisian-style apartments and architecture, BA is very much like the French capital. They take coffee drinking very, very seriously here.

If you’re thinking of ordering a coffee to go in the city, forget it. You will be met with vacant stares and a look of confusion upon the face of your waiter. There is a bit of an etiquette here if you are going to indulge in one of the favoured pasttimes of the Porteno. A ritual I have honed down to a T having lived here now for several weeks. Continue Reading »

Hotel California

:: The ups and downs of hostel work ::

I seem to lack any ability to budget or handle money properly. It is getting to be quite a problem and has meant I have ended up working in a hostel in Buenos Aires for a month, in order to have enough money left over for the two or so remaining months of my trip. So I´m STILL at Hostel Arrabal. The Hotel California of Buenos Aires.

A home away from home

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